Foreword to: The Supreme Court and the Constitution

[2015] UK Supreme Court Review

5 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2015

See all articles by Mark Elliott

Mark Elliott

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 22, 2015


The paper forms the foreword to the 2015 volume of the UK Supreme Court Review. In the Review, Lord Neuberger, the President of the Court, asserts that the UK "has no constitution", the implication being that the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty precludes the existence of a constitution properly so-called. In the paper, I argue that that view is incorrect, and can be shown to be so by reference to the recent jurisprudence of the UK Supreme Court. In particular, I argue that the Court is in the process of fashioning a jurisprudence which both affirms the existence of a UK constitution (its "unwritten" character notwithstanding) and suggests that parliamentary sovereignty, far from casting doubt upon the constitution’s very existence, is both accommodated within and shaped by it. Such judicial thinking is particularly evident in what might be regarded as a new wave of case-law that recharacterises the nature of the interfaces that exist between our national legal system and the European institutions with which the UK is (at least for the time being) associated. However, I go on to argue that the thread that runs through this line of case-law is that it conceives of the domestic constitution in relatively rich terms, meaning that it tells us far more about that constitution than about the European influences that operate upon it, and that the significance of this case-law thus transcends circumstances in which such influences are germane.

Keywords: British constitution, UK constitution, UK Supreme Court, parliamentary sovereignty

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K20, K29, K30

Suggested Citation

Elliott, Mark C., Foreword to: The Supreme Court and the Constitution (June 22, 2015). [2015] UK Supreme Court Review, Available at SSRN:

Mark C. Elliott (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

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